Alexey Brodovitch, Avedon, Penn, Wolfe…
Nearly as an aside, I was at a friend’s apartment last night and she’d just bought an issue of Harper’s Bazaar from 1946. While looking through it I just kept reiterating how little had changed, I mean, aside from improved films and printing technology, the content really remains the same. Actually the design, font, art direction of this Bazaar was more sophisticated and interesting and in a way more contemporary than much of what’s done today – the use of white space alone seemed far ahead of our time. It made me appreciate why Alexey Brodovitch was and remains so lauded.
photo: Brodovitch lay-out in 1945 Harper’s Bazaar.
Brodovitch, you could say, discovered or groomed Avedon, bringing him in to shoot for Harper’s when he was 22. Those two working together became such a seminal time for the magazine and for fashion that they’re now commonly referred to as, The Avedon Years:
photo: 1952 Harper’s Bazaar cover by Avedon.
Brodovitch incidentally was also Penn‘s teacher while he was studying painting at the Philadelphia Museum School. Later Brodovitch hired Penn at Harper’s for design and layout. Penn later moved to Vogue, I believe again with the function as a designer/creative, but Vogue’s Alexander Liberman had him do a photograph for the magazine, and the rest, of course, is history.
(Huh, interesting, I just noticed both that Brodovitch and Liberman were originally Russian…)
In this particular copy of Harper’s my friend had the fashion story was by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who’ve I’ve mentioned before (here) as a notable influence on the early years or editorial fashion photography.
photo: by Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper’s Bazaar, circa 1950s I think.
And that last image goes back to my original point of nothing being new under the sun. Reshoot it on Portra 160VC replace the warmth with a little cyan and it might as well have been Craig McDean that shot it. Okay, not exactly, but you get the idea.
“All intelligent thoughts have already been thought;
what is necessary is only to try to think them again.”
-from Goethe’s Faust